02 October 2011

Selected build sessions. Part 7 of 9. Microsoft Build 2011 - Windows 8

Written by Chris Bardon, Posted in Microsoft, Windows 8

There were a lot of sessions at build, and many more sessions than there were timeslots. Once the schedule was finally made available (after Tuesday’s keynote), my first step was to start figuring out what to see, and what conflicts there were. I think the fewest number of simultaneous sessions that I wanted to see was four, and it went as high as eight for one block. Needless to say, the fact that all the sessions are posted online is quite handy, since it means being able to catch up post-conference on what I wasn’t able to see in Anaheim. If you’re looking for something to watch over lunch, here are some suggestions (note, some of these are only interesting if you’re a developer):

01 October 2011

Contracts, Charms, and the “Web of Apps”. Part 6 of 9. Microsoft Build 2011 - Windows 8

Written by Chris Bardon, Posted in Microsoft, Windows 8

In Windows, applications have always been able to communicate with each other, but it hasn’t always been easy. First, there’s the question of protocol-applications could choose from setting up sockets, named pipes, http interfaces, COM, .net remoting, command lines, or any number of other choices that both sides of a transaction would need to agree on. Then there was the matter of the messages that would flow on that channel, which were usually published by one side or the other, and required custom development from the opposite side to implement. There were places where things were better, such as registering for a protocol handler or a file association. Double clicking a .docx file in explorer opens word, and clicking a sip: or tel: URI in a browser (or anywhere else that renders hyperlinks) will open a softphone (iceBAR, Lync, eyebeam etc). For the most part though, inter-application communications were a largely proprietary effort that required work on the part of someone to get working. One of the visions Microsoft has for Windows 8 though, is a “Web of Apps” (their words), and they’ve exposed a series of contracts to enable this.

30 September 2011

Development model. Part 5 of 9. Microsoft Build 2011 - Windows 8

Written by Chris Bardon, Posted in Microsoft, Windows 8

Developing for Windows 8 is going to fall into two camps: the Metro apps and the desktop apps. The chart below breaks things down quite nicely.

29 September 2011

Stores and Microsoft’s cut. Part 4 of 9. Microsoft Build 2011 - Windows 8

Written by Chris Bardon, Posted in Microsoft, Windows 8

Looking at any of the screenshots of the Metro UI, one thing stands out on the main page:

28 September 2011

Hardware and touch as an input. Part 3 of 9. Microsoft Build 2011 - Windows 8

Written by Chris Bardon, Posted in Microsoft, Windows 8

In the Build keynote, one of the key takeaways was that the next version of windows was a touch first interface. They even made the claim that in a few years, screens without touch would seem antiquated, which shows that touch is really a big deal for the next version of Windows. Now, that’s not to say that things don’t work great with a mouse and keyboard, but looking at the Metro UI, there’s no denying that the large buttons and tiles are built with touch in mind.

With that being said though, what makes a great touch system? One mantra that kept being repeated at Build was “Fast and Fluid’. In testing, users tended to be much less tolerant of unresponsive touch interfaces-touching something required a much faster response than clicking something. There are also new challenges in interacting with the system, especially in cases where you no longer have the luxury of starting from scratch (i.e. desktop applications). A right click, which is perfectly natural on a mouse, turns into a click and hold, which is much slower, and even a double click often fails because of a lack of precision. Thankfully, Metro doesn’t suffer from many of these issues, largely because of conscious design decisions by the team. There are no right clicks, no click and hold, and a standard set of gestures that perform system tasks.

27 September 2011

Everything is the same (but better). Part 2 of 9. Microsoft Build 2011 - Windows 8

Written by Chris Bardon, Posted in Microsoft, Windows 8

Looking at Part 1 of this series, it would appear that Windows 8 is a radical departure from what we know as a PC, and in some senses it is, but then you hit the “desktop” tile and are greeted with something that looks very familiar-a standard windows desktop